Sometimes just for fun, I slide a chair up to the counter, grab the pack of cigarettes next to the glasses, and I flush them down the toilet. I break them in half first and watch the tobacco swirl around the bowl like paper confetti. I wait for the explosion of anger, and I giggle with nervous satisfaction when they come stomping around the house to find me.
“They’re bad for your health, ya know!” my pint-sized self sasses back.
I’ll grow to love cigs, and starting at 16, I’ll spend twelve years of my life smoking them, but I can’t possibly know that yet.
My dad pays Tammy to do the groceries and to keep the house together. As a single dad and a restaurant owner, he has little time for much else. Tammy is a dancer, but not the kind that I think she is. She has a hairless dog named Creature. I grow a fondness for the weird little guy, even the off-putting feeling of his skin.
My dad’s architecturally uninteresting house is an unfortunate color, the shade of roadside filth. The stucco exterior looks like the builders didn’t finish the job. On Holidays we sometimes take family pictures in the neighbor’s yard. My dad positions the tripod and runs into the shot.
Every other weekend and every summer, Kev and I share a room and bunk beds. When I can’t sleep, I stare at the life-size Boyz N The Hood movie theater cut-out that lives in our room. If my bladder wakes me up in the middle of the night, I’m often shaken awake by toilet water greeting me with a splash. The toilet seats are usually up.
On Sundays, I track down my woobie and pack up the rest of my belongings into my Minnie Mouse duffle bag.
They outnumber me, three guys to one Little Katie, yet it feels like home.
© Katie Pendergast 2021